Area residents pay tribute to military veterans and personnel

by CINDY M. CRANMER

Carnations are placed on gravestones to remember our fallen soldiers during a Memorial Day ceremony at Rockford Cemetery. Photo by CINDY M. CRANMER

Area residents gathered for Memorial Day 2012 to show their respect for those who paid the ultimate price for freedom and those who have served our country. Activities occurred in several local areas, including Rockford, Belmont, Algoma Township and Cedar Springs.

“We need to celebrate everyone who risks their lives for us,” said Schuyler VanStee, 8, of Hastings, who was at the Rockford Memorial parade on Monday, May 28 with family who live in Rockford.

From thanking veterans and posting slogans on Facebook such as “All gave some and some gave all” and “Some gave up their tomorrows for our todays” to attending Memorial Day parades to visiting the cemetery, people showed their support for veterans and active duty military personnel in a variety of ways.

The flag is lowered and raised during a tribute and the playing of the National Anthem at Rockford Cemetery. Photo by CINDY M. CRANMER

Area activities in Rockford included a flag-raising ceremony, the Memorial Day parade, a ceremony at Rockford Cemetery and a wreath ceremony at the Rockford post of the American Legion.

During a memorial ceremony that took place as part of the Memorial Day parade, Clyde Sinclair, commander of the American Legion Merritt Lamb Post 102, spoke after the Rockford High School marching band played the National Anthem.

“We need to acknowledge their death because they chose to cherish freedom so much they sacrificed their own lives,” Sinclair said. “We fight because we believe not that war is good, but that it may be the price of freedom. The heart of America is freedom.”

Jayden, Cassi and Schuyler VanStee, Hastings residents visiting family in Rockford, take a moment to enjoy the parade honoring our military and remembering our fallen soldiers. Photo by CINDY M. CRANMER

“The valor, dignity and courage of men and women remain the same,” Sinclair said of those who served from the earliest military to those currently serving.

“We need to remember the past and look to the future. The cost of independence remains high,” Sinclair added. “Many brave soldiers have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country and more will.”

A Memorial Day address was given by Chaplain Cliff Owens, a retired corporal from the United States Army, at Rockford Cemetery. The cemetery service also included the National Anthem performed by the Rockford Middle School bands, a prayer of invocation and a 21-gun salute followed by “Taps.”

Owens talked about the history of Memorial Day and the hundreds of thousands of men and women who died in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

We remember the soldiers who have fallen. Photo by CINDY M. CRANMER

“Today, we honor those who served valiantly, even giving their lives, so we might have freedom,” Owens said.

Rockford High School junior Casey Anan and sophomore Emma Hunt traveled with the American Legion, going to several area services to play “Taps” on their trumpets.

“I did it just to give something back to the community,” Anan said.

Following the ceremony at the Rockford Cemetery, there was a wreath ceremony and then an open house at Rockford’s American Legion Post.

American Legion Post members from Rockford also participated in Algoma Township’s Memorial Day ceremony on Monday afternoon.

With a Memorial Day parade, Rockford honors the men and women who have served. Photo by CINDY M. CRANMER

Lt. Col. Denny Gillem, who is retired from the United States Army, was the featured speaker at Belmont’s ceremony. Gillem, who is the host of the “Frontlines of Freedom” radio program and a member of the Yellow Ribbon Network, spoke before the placing of a memorial wreath and a 21-gun salute along with closing remarks from Plainfield Township Supervisor George Meek.

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